Fantasy Basketball Cheat Sheet: Best, Worst NBA Matchups for December 11

The NBA Cheat Sheet is an article that will come your way five days a week all season with the goal of breaking down the best and worst matchups/spots at each position.
 
It’s crucial to have all the latest lineup and injury news when constructing your fantasy basketball lineups. Make sure you’re following @DKLive for every update, and also feel free to hit me up on Twitter with any comments or questions — @JulianEdlow.

Here’s what stands out on Tuesday’s three-game slate:


Defense vs. Position

Point Guard Matchups

BEST
Toronto Raptors at Los Angeles Clippers, 29th
Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs, 24th
San Antonio Spurs vs. Phoenix Suns, 18th

There is some nice value on San Antonio and Phoenix, but I’m not sure I trust Derrick White ($3,800), even on a slate this small. White should be a popular play, but I’ll touch on some value I prefer later. If you’re looking for stability at PG, I’d target a very fairly priced Kyle Lowry ($7,200).

WORST
Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets, 2nd
Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 8th
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Toronto Raptors, 10th

Chris Paul ($7,800) has 40-DKFP upside, which would be reaching value at his price tag, but that seems to be his ceiling this season. In a difficult matchup, I’m not paying up for him. Damian Lillard ($9,700) is not in the best spot, but I don’t think you need to fade him given the nature of the slate. It’s always possible to go off against Houston, and Dame has three games with 59 or more DKFP in his last six outings.


Shooting Guard Matchups

BEST
Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 22nd
Toronto Raptors at Los Angeles Clippers, 20th
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Toronto Raptors, 17th

James Harden ($10,700) would be off the radar on a slate like Monday’s wild 11-gamer, but with limited options to pay up for, Harden has a good shot to be the leading scorer on this slate. He’s safe enough to lock into cash games, even with that 23-DKFP dud against Utah jumping out in his game log. That’s the only contest in Harden’s last eight that he hasn’t scored over 50 DKFP. Eric Gordon ($4,500) is the value to target in this matchup, and reports indicate he could jump into the starting lineup for this game.

WORST
San Antonio Spurs vs. Phoenix Suns, 5th
Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets, 10th
Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs, 16th

I think we can always consider rostering a stud against the Suns, so an off-the-radar DeMar DeRozan ($9,200) play is worth GPP considerations. In cash I think you’ve got to go with Harden there, though.


Small Forward Matchups

BEST
Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 29th
Toronto Raptors at Los Angeles Clippers, 28th
San Antonio Spurs vs. Phoenix Suns, 26th

Houston’s extremely limited at the SF spot, but these other teams offer strong cash and GPP targets. I just made mention to DeRozan, but Rudy Gay ($6,400) could be a sneaky tournament play, if that’s possible on a short slate. Gay has two monster games of more than 46 DKFP in his last three outings, and the Suns don’t give much pushback on the defensive end. Kawhi Leonard ($9,400), who is questionable due to a hip injury, is my favorite play on this slate for multiple reasons, but the matchup against the Clippers is one of them. I’ll touch on the rest later.

WORST
Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets, 5th
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Toronto Raptors, 12th
Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs, 25th
 
This is a spot you can find yourself a little bit of value, starting with Mikal Bridges ($4,000). The rookie has scored 24 or more DKFP in four of his last five, and obviously has a very good matchup with the Spurs ranking 25th against SFs. The only reason Phoenix is featured in this section is because of how good those top 3 SF matchups are.


Power Forward Matchups

BEST
Toronto Raptors at Los Angeles Clippers, 24th
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Toronto Raptors, 22nd
Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 17th

My favorite target here is another salary saver, the undersized P.J. Tucker ($4,000). Tucker is capable of duds given his limited scoring ability, but getting this many minutes this cheap is crucial on a smaller slate. Values will always be limited with just three games, but you’re not going to find anyone else playing 34.5 minutes per game this season at $4,000 or less. A couple of open three-balls and a good night on the glass already has Tucker reaching value.

WORST
Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets, 7th
Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs, 9th
San Antonio Spurs vs. Phoenix Suns, 12th

PF is super limited on this slate. Outside of Tucker or sliding Kawhi over to PF in your lineup, I’d look at Trevor Ariza ($5,000) or Al-Farouq Aminu ($4,700). Neither are in great spots, but it’ll be difficult to make a lineup on this slate where you’re completely confident in each play.


Center Matchups

BEST
Toronto Raptors at Los Angeles Clippers, 29th
San Antonio Spurs vs. Phoenix Suns, 25th
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Toronto Raptors, 19th

For the first time in a long time, the center position on this slate is actually difficult to find strong plays. Jonas Valanciunas ($4,800) had a pair of games with more than 36 DKFP in each, but then disappeared again in his last game. He could see more minutes in this matchup, leaving him as a strong play, but a risky one. You can consider Boban Marjanovic ($3,800) if you need some value, but those minutes have to make you nervous. Boban somehow finds ways to put up 20.5 DKFP in 16 minutes like he did last game, and even 32.5 DKFP in 13 minutes, like he did against the Grizzlies on Wednesday.

WORST
Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets, 7th
Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs, 12th
Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 13th

The two safest center plays on this slate have to be the head-to-head matchup between Clint Capela ($7,700) and Jusuf Nurkic ($7,500). I’d lean with rostering Capela, but both of these guys scored over 38 DKFP in their first matchup this season.


Lineup Quick Hits

Superstar Worth Paying For

Kawhi Leonard, TOR at LAC ($9,400) — So yeah, the matchup is great for Kawhi in this game. But the bigger narrative is that he’s playing in Los Angeles against a Clippers team that he’s rumored to have interest in playing for. Consider this a stage to show the city what he can do first hand. Kawhi’s been playing terrific lately, exceeding 50 DKFP in four of his last six.

Editor’s Note: Leonard (hip) is listed as questionable for tonight’s game.

Save The Big Bucks By Drafting …

De’Anthony Melton, PHX at SA ($4,300) — The Suns’ rotations have been all over the place, but insane blowouts have also been partially to blame. Melton’s probably the player the scoreboard has affected the least over these last four games, averaging 27.5 minutes and 28.25 DKFP. Melton played 36 minutes and scored 33 DKFP on Monday against the Clippers, a role that could stick on this slate.

Next Man Up

Eric Gordon, HOU vs. POR ($4,500) — The Rockets are rumored to be considering inserting Gordon into the starting lineup. If that’s the case, he makes for a really good value to target on this slate. There’s no injury news in the early going that really alters this slate, but if you played Monday’s slate, you know how quickly things can change. Keep up with the news on DK Live, as more value will likely open up closer to lock.

*DKFP = DraftKings Fantasy Points
 



 
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.